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Teenagers have fewer options for travelling by bus nowadays

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: June 27, 2013

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Iwas searching through some of my old gardening notebooks last week when I found one of my trainspotting books from 1965.

This started me thinking about how different life was for me as a teenager in the 60s to how it is for today's teenagers.

At that time I was living in a village two miles away from Oakham.

Car ownership was nowhere near as universal as it is now and two-car families were rare.

My own parents didn't own a car and, indeed, out of the group of village lads that used to go trainspotting together only one had a family car and that was used for work on Saturdays. So all of our spotting trips out started with a two-mile walk to the station.

Looking through the 1965 book brings back memories of how far away from home we travelled as a group of 11 to 13-year-olds.

A trip to Oxford, for example, started at 7am and involved travel by train, bus and a walk across Leicester city centre. Other trips I can remember are Crewe, Rugby, Nuneaton, Derby, Peterborough, March and Nottingham (for cricket at Trent Bridge).

All of these were without an adult which was not unusual at that time. Trainspotting was still a very popular pastime in the mid-60s and at busy stations on a summer Saturday there would often be literally dozens of young boys there with their number books, sandwiches etc.

Today's teenagers may have a lot more in material possessions (Xboxes, mobile phones, computers, a TV in their bedroom etc) but they do have a lot less freedom to roam.

I doubt if any parent reading this today would allow their offspring to travel beyond Lincoln on their own let alone half way around the country as we did.

Even if they did, their opportunities to do so would be less. From our village we had a good evening bus service and on Saturday nights we had a choice of buses to get us home from Oakham; 9.30pm and 10.30pm as I recall. There was even a Sunday evening bus service.

Nowadays, when even in a city the size of Lincoln, evening bus services are fast disappearing and any bus service, at any time, is rare in a rural village. Modern teenagers have to rely mainly on mum or dad's 'taxi'.

There is not a lot of difference in child fares between 1960s Rutland and Lincolnshire now in that most still have discounts for under-16s.

I was surprised, however, to see that Centrebus in the Grantham area only give a discount of about 30 per cent and then only for children under 14. If you happen to live in London the situation is completely different.

So not only is there much more public transport for teenagers to use, child fares are far more generous.

In general Londoners under 16 have free travel on buses, trams, underground and some trains and the 16-18 year olds get half fare, which must be a bonus given that far more pupils now stay in education to 18.

You may be asking yourselves why Lincolnshire cannot match the child discounts that Londoners enjoy?

Maybe it is because Government funding for transport is much higher in London. Transport for London have just placed an £88 million order for 57 more rail carriages, for example.

If they were football clubs, London would be in the Premier League and Lincolnshire, like Lincoln City, would not even be in the league.

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